Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) has ordered the Medical Council of Malawi to institute disciplinary hearing against renowned pathologist, Dr. Charles Dzamalala over his involvement in a discriminatory CoVID-19 vaccination arrangement that took place between March 20-21.
The Commission carried out an investigation on Malmed Health Care Services Limited, a Blantyre-based clinic, in which Dzamalala is the Medical Director and also one of the three owners, where the renowned pathologist was involved in special arrangement between the clinic and Blantyre District Health Office (DHO) to accord Asian/Indian Community preferential treatment for CoVID-19 vaccine on a Sunday, March 21.
The Commission says according to this alleged special arrangement, the Asian/lndian community were to be vaccinated first between 9am and 10am before opening up to other people.
When the arrangement went viral on social media it “generated public uproar with some accusing the clinic and Blantyre DHO of practicing discrimination based on race”, says the investigation report from Commissioners Martha Chizuma — chairperson of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ESCR) Committee, issued on Friday, April 23.
Thus in line with Section 46 of the Medical Practitioners and Dentist Act of 1987, “the Commission recommends to the Council to handle this in a manner that sends a right message to all that such kind of racist conduct shall never be condoned anywhere in this country regardless of who perpetrators are” and this report should be done by 31st May, 2021.
Under pursuant to the powers conferred on the Commission by Section 130 of the Constitution and Section 22 of the Human Rights Commission Act, the Blantyre DHO is also ordered to institute disciplinary action against Dr. Zaziwe Gundah (District Medical Officer and chairperson of CoVID-19 Taskforce Blantyre) and Jean Kachala (coordinator for Emergency Programme on lmmunization (EPl) “for their involvement in this discriminatory arrangement with Malmed Health care services Limited”.
“Such a disciplinary action should take into account the extent of their respective involvement in this special arrangement as unearthed by this report. The Commission shall follow up on the progress of this by 30th May, 2021.”
The Blantyre DHO is further ordered to put in place stronger monitoring systems of the phased approach of CoVID-19 vaccination to ensure adherence to human rights standards and the government policy on CoVID-19 and vaccination to be done by 30th May, 2021.
“The Blantyre DHO should ensure that all officers involved in CoVID-19 vaccination are well oriented on human rights standards and government policy in relation to CoVID-19 and vaccination in order to avoid a repeat of the same.”
The Commission also orders Malmed to retract their statement and issue a public apology for their role in the discriminatory arrangement — that such a statement should run 10 times over a period of two weeks on one public and one private radio stations during prime time and should also be published on Mondays and Wednesdays in the two daily papers; twice in the two weekend newspapers over a period of two weeks — to be done by May 30, 2021.
“Malmed should develop an internal organization’s non-discrimination policy in line with the Constitution and human rights standards policy in relation to CoVID-19 and vaccination” and this shall be followed up by June 30.
Also involved in the saga is Millan Kotecha, general manager of HISCO — who is also son to one of three owners of Malmed, Mahesh Kotecha — and has been ordered to issue a public apology “for influencing the initiation of such a discriminatory arrangement between Malmed and Blantyre DHO office”.
The public apology should also run 10 times over a period of two weeks on one public and one private radio stations during prime time and should also be published on Mondays and Wednesdays in the two daily papers and twice in the two weekend newspapers over a period of two weeks by May 30.
Millan Kotecha has also been ordered to stop meddling or interfering in Malmed-related business “particularly on matters relating to medical ethics and professionalism”.
The Ministry of Health and the Presidential Taskforce on CoVID-19 have been tasked to develop guidelines on non-discrimination in the context of CoVID-19 and vaccination and that the two organizations should strengthen their monitoring systems of the implementation of government policy on CoVID-19 vaccination by May 30.
As for Malmed itself, in line with Section 46 of the Medical Practitioners and Dentist Act of 1987, the Medical Council of Malawi should institute disciplinary action against it for initiating such a discriminatory arrangement which is not in sync with government policy and medical ethics.
Also involved in the saga is Asian Association of Marawi (AAM), whose chairperson is Rafik Hajat and has been ordered to develop guidelines on non-discrimination and orient all members on peaceful co-existence, non-discrimination and human rights in line with the objectives of the Association and the Constitution of the Republic of Malawi by July 30.
In the report, the Commission says the evidence it gathered points to the fact that Malmed, Dzamalala, Millan Kotecha and the two DHO Officers (Gunda and Kachala) acted in contravention of Sections 20(1), 30(2) and 13(c) and other international human rights principles and standards provided for in the UDHR, ICERD, ICCPR, and ICESCR.
“The Commission is ready to work with all these authorities and individuals to ensure that the violations of human rights identified in this report are remedied.
“The Commission will, apart from the specific dates provided in the recommendations section, follow up on the progress made on all recommendations in this report by September 30, 2021,” says the report by Chizuma, who is also the Ombudsman.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :